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A Novel Tree Visualization to Guide Interactive Exploration of Multi-dimensional Topological Hierarchies

by   Yarden Livnat, et al.

Understanding the response of an output variable to multi-dimensional inputs lies at the heart of many data exploration endeavours. Topology-based methods, in particular Morse theory and persistent homology, provide a useful framework for studying this relationship, as phenomena of interest often appear naturally as fundamental features. The Morse-Smale complex captures a wide range of features by partitioning the domain of a scalar function into piecewise monotonic regions, while persistent homology provides a means to study these features at different scales of simplification. Previous works demonstrated how to compute such a representation and its usefulness to gain insight into multi-dimensional data. However, exploration of the multi-scale nature of the data was limited to selecting a single simplification threshold from a plot of region count. In this paper, we present a novel tree visualization that provides a concise overview of the entire hierarchy of topological features. The structure of the tree provides initial insights in terms of the distribution, size, and stability of all partitions. We use regression analysis to fit linear models in each partition, and develop local and relative measures to further assess uniqueness and the importance of each partition, especially with respect parents/children in the feature hierarchy. The expressiveness of the tree visualization becomes apparent when we encode such measures using colors, and the layout allows an unprecedented level of control over feature selection during exploration. For instance, selecting features from multiple scales of the hierarchy enables a more nuanced exploration. Finally, we demonstrate our approach using examples from several scientific domains.


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